I’ve been enjoying Twitter as a diversion. For this blog post, I thought I would compile a favorites list. It took a lot of effort (in small 140-character chunks) to do this, and a fair bit of wasted time skimming over the noise. I’m not sure I would have ever done it without being required to. That said, I found it a little bit addictive, and I can see some value in it as a promotional tool.
As Leo Laporte is fond of saying, the net effect of all the chatter and media creation by novices is that the cream (still) rises to the top, and it comes from more diverse sources. Twitter seems to contribute to that effect. I found out about good stuff that I never would have found out about otherwise. Whether I really needed to know is a question for another time, but Twitter does put the megaphone in the hands of more people. Here, it’s not just the professional media having the power to decide what is important. That’s the model that I’m used to — and comfortable with — for getting information. Twitter filters information a different way. A more dynamic way, I think. But a messier one. Word of mouth at hyperspeed.
The hashtags I’ve tried bring up some good tweets. For me, if there’s a relevant event going on, a hashtag for the event seems to be pretty useful. For instance, the Frankfurt Book Fair was going on while I was exploring Twitter, and there was lots of interesting publishing news being tweeted.
I’m following a few more people now than before. Instead of following a couple of friends (who never tweet) and a few big personalities and companies who tweet way too much, I now have a buch of smaller personalities — usually with healthy followings. They tend to be authors or media creators I’m aware of. Their tweets are useful and pretty amusing: Erik Spiekermann, the typographer; Hoefler+Frere-Jones, typographers; Gary Hustwit, a design documentary producer. I’m following one completely new-to-me twitterer who writes on sustainable business strategy. His posts are excellent: Adam Werbach.
I also follow a couple of design authors I like. The funny thing is I work for the same publisher that these guys write for. Sometimes I work on their books. I mentioned to one of my contacts at the publisher that I was following one particular author, and she said something like, “Author tweets are funny sometimes — I especially like it when they tell us everything is copasetic and then tweet about what a panic they’re in!” Which reminds me of some of the pitfalls of social networking. Some of my Facebook contacts are people I work for. I always temper my posts, and usually don’t post about anything work-related despite really, really wanting to sometimes. I feel like that would have unpredictable repercussions. I’m hesitant to say what a huge panic *I’m* in on any given day, but who knows, it’s probably all good. I see it from my colleagues, so why not do it myself.
I started following Steve Martin’s tweets. His posts are by far, the most entertaining of the ones I subscribe to. It’s usually a joke a day. I also love his banjo album, and I found out (from him) about a children’s book he’s doing that’s accompanied by a CD of him playing banjo and reciting the stories: Late for School (http://stevemartin.com/stevemartin/books.html). I must get it for my 20-month-old daughter and save it for when she can appreciate it. In the meantime, I’ll appreciate it. John Cleese is good, too.
So, on to some of the hashtags that I’ve tried. I’ve rated them 1 to 5 on my personal usefulness scale.
Rating 1 = not useful to 5 = very useful
#indesign: 3 Adobe InDesign is my bread-and-butter page-layout tool – the tweets are not very substantive — not much that gets me more info on the product
#interactiondesign: 3 some interesting tweets about organizational entities and a few foreign language tweets that are fun to try and decipher
#mountainunicycle: 1 I know there’s more going on than the hashtag delivers
#aikido: 3 not bad, a videographer is working on a big project, the Yamada Sensei DVD Project, and his posts are to very good video links; familiar with it from Facebook
#bookarts: 5 lots of activity and interesting news – ironic because it’s such a low-tech art/craft
#tourdefrance: 1 not the season for this hashtag – try again next july
#socap10: 2 money and meaning conference with lots of posts, intriguing
#culturejam: 1 maybe culturejammers don’t use twitter much, bansky storyboarding the simpsons intro was the big news as it was elsewhere
#frankfurt: 5 international bookfair in Germany, lots of interesting industry-related tweets during the conference
#bookfair: 5 international bookfair in Germany, lots of interesting industry-related tweets during the conference
#buchmesse: 4 great if you want to find more Frankfurt bookfair tweets in German than use the #bookfair hashtag
#typedesign: 3 okay, it led to finding a good twitterer: type_matters
#ipad: 1 too much noise on the channel
One last thought, it’s interesting to think how Twitter may to some degree be driving what professional media outlets cover, such as graffiti artist Bansky storyboarding the Simpsons intro.